MN Broadband Task Force July 2022: Affordable Connectivity Program and American Connection Corps

The Task Force member heard about Affordable Connectivity Program and Affordable Connectivity ProgramAmerican Connection Corps. It was energizing and informative.

They also got an update from the Office of Broadband Development. The OBD is in the middle of receiving Border to Border applications with hopes of doing a second round of funding later in the fall.

1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 20, 2022 Meeting

Meeting the new Task Force member, Phil Stalboerger, VP Public Affairs, Medical Transportation Management

1:40 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Office of Broadband Development Diane Wells, Deputy Director

There are four staff members now. The Digital Equity Application and Letter of Intent were both filed. The BEAD filing is due later. The next deadline is Aug 5, to report that we do want $5 million for broadband planning. The Capitol Projects Funds – we have $70 million from the fund already in the grant project. There’s another $110 million available ($60.2M already spoken for) need to discuss the rest.

Border to Border grants are open now. The deadline to submit an intent to apply has passed. We are going through the stages and hope to be done in September. Hoping to open another grant round later this fall.

We are working to add new staff. Final stages of hiring a Digital Equity Lead. Applications just closed for Executive Director. It will be at least a 2-interview process. Will soon be hiring more grant managers.

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Affordable Connectivity Program Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. American Connection Corps Updates in Minnesota Benya Kraus, Lead for America Co-Founder and ACC Executive Director

The American Connection Corps is a national nonprofit that matches fellows with rural communities to expand broadband infrastructure and use. They have had great support from Land o’Lakes and Center Care.

We heard from fellows from Otter Tail and Redwood and their efforts to understanding the broadband needs in the community and increasing use. They have done great work with gathering data, mapping out availability and funding opportunities.

We also heard about the importance broadband has in bringing healthcare, especially mental healthcare to rural areas.

3:15 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.  Affordability and Adoption Sub-Group

  • Haven’t met – but talked about a schedule for the future.

3:20 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. Funding, Mapping and Usage Sub-Group

  • Did meet. Making plans for future topics. How can people challenge the maps? How can we track the funds available.

3:25 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Update Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

They are still talking about sending a letter to the PUC about LTD Broadband’s reconsidering ETC status.

3:40 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, August 29 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

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